- Today, in 2011, the World Health Organization, projects
that 18 million human beings will starve to death. (Source: www.worldhealthorganization.org
) That's eight million adults and 10 million children under the age of
- In 2011, the United States virtually feeds Egypt with
82 million people and projected to exceed over 100 million by mid century.
- Africa as a whole expects to grow from 850 million to
1.4 billion by mid century.
- China, at 1.3 billion, adds eight million net gain annually
while India adds another 11 million annually on their way to become the
most populated country at 1.6 billion in 40 years.
- As those countries continue adding enormous populations,
they destroy cropland. At some point, they will not be able to feed their
overwhelming populations. Can the United States feed a starving world
without starving its own citizens? Answer: not a chance!
- Lester Brown, author of Plan B, Mobilizing to Save Civilization,
and director at www.earth-policy.org, gives his appreciation for what humanity
faces in the next 40 years.
- "In 1994, I wrote an article in World Watch magazine
entitled "Who Will Feed China?" that was later expanded into
a book of the same title," said Brown. "When the article was
published in late August, the press conference generated only moderate
coverage. But when it was reprinted that weekend on the front of the Washington
Post's Outlook section with the title "How China Could Starve the
World," it unleashed a political firestorm in Beijing.
- "The response began with a press conference at the
Ministry of Agriculture on Monday morning, where Deputy Minister Wan Baorui
denounced the study. Advancing technology, he said, would enable the Chinese
people to feed themselves. This was followed by a government-orchestrated
stream of articles that challenged my findings.
- "The strong reaction surprised me. In retrospect,
although I had followed closely the Great Famine of 1959-61, during which
some 30 million people starved to death, I had not fully appreciated the
psychological scars it left. The leaders in Beijing are survivors of that
famine. As a result of that traumatic experience, no leader could acknowledge
that China might one day have to import much of its food. China, they said,
had always fed itself, and it always would.
- "As party leaders assessed the situation, they decided
to launch an all-out effort to maintain grain self-sufficiency. The government
quickly adopted several key production-boosting measures, including a 40
percent rise in the grain support price paid to farmers, an increase in
agricultural credit, and heavy investment in developing higher-yielding
strains of wheat, rice, and corn, their leading crops.
- "They offset cropland losses in the fast-industrializing
coastal provinces by plowing grasslands in the northwestern provinces,
a measure that contributed to the emergence of the country's massive dust
bowl. In addition to overplowing, they expanded irrigation by overpumping
- "Lastly, the Party made a conscious decision to
abandon self-sufficiency in soybeans and concentrate their agricultural
resources on remaining self-sufficient in grain. The effect of neglecting
the soybean in the country where it originated was dramatic. In 1995 China
produced and consumed nearly 14 million tons of soybeans. In 2010 it was
still producing only 14 million tons-but it consumed nearly 70 million
tons, most of it to supplement grain in livestock and poultry rations.
China now imports four-fifths of its soybeans. (See data.)
- "China's decision to import vast quantities of soybeans
led to a restructuring of agriculture in the western hemisphere, the only
region that could respond to such a massive demand. The United States now
has more land in soybeans than in wheat. Brazil has more land in soybeans
than in all grains combined. Argentina, with twice as much land in soybeans
as in grain, is fast becoming a soybean monoculture. For the hemisphere
as a whole, there is now more land in soybeans than in either wheat or
- The United States, Brazil, and Argentina-the big three
soybean producers-now account for more than 80 percent of the world harvest
and nearly 90 percent of soybean exports. Nearly 60 percent of world soybean
exports go to China.
- "Despite China's herculean efforts to expand grain
output, several trends are now converging that make it harder to do so.
Some, like soil erosion, are longstanding," said Brown. "The
pumping capacity to deplete aquifers has emerged only in recent decades.
The extraordinary growth in China's automobile fleet and the associated
paving of land have come only in the last several years.
- "Overplowing and overgrazing are creating a huge
dust bowl in northern and western China. The numerous dust storms originating
in the region each year in late winter and early spring are now regularly
recorded on satellite images. For instance, on March 20, 2010, a suffocating
dust storm enveloped Beijing, prompting the city's weather bureau to warn
that air quality was hazardous, urging people to stay inside or to cover
their faces when outdoors. Visibility was low, forcing motorists to drive
with lights on in daytime.
- "Beijing was not the only area affected. This particular
dust storm engulfed scores of cities in five provinces, directly affecting
over 250 million people. And it was not an isolated incident. In early
spring, residents of eastern China hunker down as the dust storm season
begins. Along with the difficulty in breathing and the dust that stings
the eyes, people face a constant struggle to keep dust out of homes and
to clear doorways and sidewalks of dust and sand. But the farmers and herders
in the vast northwest, whose livelihoods are blowing away, are paying a
far higher price.
- "Wang Tao, one of the world's leading desert scholars,
reports that from 1950 to 1975 an average of 600 square miles of land in
China's north and west turned to desert each year. By the turn of the century,
nearly 1,400 square miles of land was going to desert annually. The trend
- "China is now at war. It is not invading armies
that are claiming its territory, but expanding deserts. Old deserts are
advancing and new ones are forming like guerrilla forces striking unexpectedly,
forcing Beijing to fight on several fronts. And in this war with the deserts,
China is losing.
- "A U.S. Embassy report entitled "Desert Mergers
and Acquisitions" describes satellite images showing two deserts in
north-central China expanding and merging to form a single, larger desert
overlapping Inner Mongolia and Gansu Provinces. To the west in Xinjiang
Province, two even larger deserts-the Taklimakan and Kumtag-are also heading
for a merger. Highways running through the shrinking region between them
are regularly inundated by sand dunes.
- "An estimated 24,000 villages in northwestern China
have been totally or partially abandoned since 1950 as sand dunes encroach
on cropland, forcing farmers to leave. Unlike the U.S. Dust Bowl of the
1930s, when many farmers in the Great Plains migrated to California, China's
"Okies" do not have a West Coast to migrate to. They are moving
to already heavily populated eastern cities.
- "Overpumping, like overplowing, is also taking a
toll. As the demand for food in China has soared, millions of Chinese farmers
have drilled irrigation wells to expand their harvests. As a result, water
tables are falling and wells are starting to go dry under the North China
Plain, which produces half of China's wheat and a third of its corn. The
overpumping of aquifers for irrigation temporarily inflates food production,
creating a food production bubble that eventually bursts when the aquifer
is depleted. Earth Policy Institute estimates that some 130 million Chinese
are being fed with grain produced by overpumping-by definition, a short
- "In a 2010 interview with Washington Post reporter
Steve Mufson, Chinese groundwater expert He Qingcheng noted that underground
water now meets three fourths of Beijing's water needs. The city, he said,
is drilling 1,000 feet down to reach water-five times deeper than 20 years
ago. He notes that as the deep aquifer under the North China Plain is depleted,
the region is losing its last water reserve-its only safety cushion. His
concerns are mirrored in the unusually strong language of a World Bank
report on China's water situation that foresees "catastrophic consequences
for future generations" unless water use and supply can quickly be
brought back into balance.
- "At the same time, China is losing cropland to residential
and industrial construction, and to paving land for cars as their numbers
multiply at a staggering rate. In 2009, vehicle sales totaled 14 million,
surpassing those in the United States for the first time. In 2010, sales
jumped to 18 million, and in 2011 they are projected to reach 20 million,
the highest ever for any country. Adding 20 million cars to the fleet means
paving one million acres for roads, highways, and parking lots. Cars are
now competing with farmers for cropland in China.
- "Rural China is also facing a tightening labor supply.
As industrial wages rise, it becomes more difficult to find young people
to work at low-return jobs in rural areas. Marginal cropland and smaller
plots, no longer economical, are abandoned. As the rural labor supply shrinks,
so does the potential for labor-intensive double-cropping (such as planting
winter wheat and then corn as a summer crop in the north or producing two
rice crops per year in the south), a practice that has dramatically expanded
China's grain production.
- "As all these trends converge, China's food supply
is tightening. In November 2010, the food price index was up a politically
dangerous 12 percent over a year earlier. Now after 15 years of near self-sufficiency
in grain, it seems likely that China soon will turn to the world market
for massive grain imports, as it already has done for 80 percent of its
- "How much grain will China import?" said Brown.
"How will it compare with their soybean imports? No one knows for
sure, but if China were to import only 20 percent of its grain, it would
need 80 million tons, an amount only slightly less than the 90 million
tons of grain the United States exports to all countries each year. This
would put heavy additional pressure on scarce exportable supplies of wheat
- For China, the handwriting is on the wall. It will almost
certainly have to turn to the outside world for grain to avoid politically
destabilizing food price rises. To import massive quantities of grain,
China will necessarily draw heavily on the United States, far and away
the world's largest grain exporter. To be dependent on imported grain,
much of it from the United States, will be China's worst nightmare come
- "For U.S. consumers, China's worst nightmare could
become ours. If China enters the U.S. grain market big time, as now seems
inevitable, American consumers will find themselves competing with 1.4
billion Chinese consumers with fast-rising incomes for the U.S. grain harvest,
driving up food prices.
- "This would raise prices not only of the products
made directly from grain, such as bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals,
but also of meat, milk, and eggs, which require much larger quantities
of grain to produce. If China were to import even one fifth of its grain,
there would likely be pressure from U.S. consumers to restrict or to ban
exports to China, as the United States did in the 1970s, when it banned
soybean exports to Japan.
- "But in dealing with China, the United States now
faces a very different situation. When the U.S. Treasury Department auctions
off securities every month to finance the U.S. fiscal deficit, China has
been a major buyer. It holds over $900 billion worth of U.S. Treasury securities.
China is our banker. In another time, another age, the United States could
restrict access to U.S. grain as it did in the 1970s, but with China today
this may not be possible.
- "For Americans, who live in a country that has been
the world's breadbasket for more than half a century, a country that has
never known food shortages or runaway food prices, the world is about to
change. Like it or not, we are going to be sharing our grain harvest with
the Chinese, no matter how much it raises our food prices."
- Lester Brown is President of the Earth Policy Institute
and author of the
- newly published book World on the Edge.
- Additional data and information sources at www.earth-policy.org
- Feel free to pass this information along to friends,
family members, and colleagues!
- In a five minute astoundingly simple yet brilliant video,
"Immigration, Poverty, and Gum Balls", Roy Beck, director of
www.numbersusa.ORG, graphically illustrates the impact of overpopulation.
Take five minutes to see for yourself:
- "Immigration by the numbers-off the chart"
by Roy Beck
- This 10 minute demonstration shows Americans the results
of unending mass immigration on the quality of life and sustainability
for future generations: in a word "Mind boggling!" www.NumbersUSA.org
- This is the best website to start: www.numbersusa.org
; watch Roy Beck's "Immigration by the Numbers" at 14 minutes.
Bi-partisan and very effective. Become a faxer of pre-written letters to
your reps to make positive change.
- Visit www.TheSocialContract.com for the best information
on what we face as a civilization as to overpopulation, energy, immigration
and much more.
- Canada www.immigrationwatchcanada.org ; in Australia
www.population.org.au andPublicPopForum@yahoogroups.com; in Great Britain
www.populationmatters.org ; and dozens of other sites accessed at www.frostywooldridge.com.
- In Florida, www.flimen.org .
- Must see DVD: "Blind Spot" www.snagfilms.com/films/title/blind_spot/
, This movie illustrates America's future without oil, water and other
resources to keep this civilization functioning. It's a brilliant educational
- Must see: Rapid Population Decline, seven minute video
by Dr. Jack Alpert-
- Must see and funny: www.growthbusters.org ; www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXSTrW_dARc
- Dave Gardner's Polar Bear in Bedroom:
; Dave Gardner, President, Citizen-Powered Media ; Producing the Documentary,
GROWTH BUSTERS; presents Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity,
Join the cause at www.growthbusters.org ;760 Wycliffe Drive, Colorado Springs,
CO 80906 USA; +1 719-576-5565
- Check out this link with Wooldridge on bicycle and Lester
Brown and panel discussion:
- Tomorrow's Americaproject on www.youtube.com/contemporarylearning.
- Producer: GEORGE A. COLBURNwww.tomorrowsamerica.com
- DC: 202-258-4887
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Link to www.tomorrowsamerica.com for more discussions
on America's predicament.
- FOR MORE INFORMATION:
- Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents
- from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as six times across the USA,
coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic
Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. He presents "The Coming Population
Crisis in America: and what you can do about it" to civic clubs, church
groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world
population balance at www.frostywooldridge.com He is the author of: America
on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans. Copies available: 1
888 280 7715